M A I N   N E W S

Soren quits, Munda made CM
To seek trust vote by March 21

NDA MLAs enter the Jharkhand Assembly in Ranchi for the floor test on Friday.
NDA MLAs enter the Jharkhand Assembly in Ranchi for the floor test on Friday. — PTI photo

Ranchi/New Delhi, March 11
Climaxing a day-long political drama, Chief Minister Shibu Soren bowed out of office after failing to prove his majority in the state Assembly as directed by the Supreme Court following which BJP leader Arjun Munda was appointed to the post.

Putting up a last-minute resistance of sorts before Governor Sibtey Razi, who called him to quit, Mr Soren, who was sworn in as Chief Minister on March 9, refused to tender his resignation during the hour-long meeting at Raj Bhavan this evening.

He went home and only after some persuasion by some Congress leaders he announced his resignation at a press conference close to midnight, the deadline set by the Supreme Court for completing the trial of strength.

Almost half past midnight, Mr Munda, who had been the Chief Minister for close to four years, met the Governor who gave him the appointment letter. Mr Munda will be sworn as the Chief Minister tomorrow, a Raj Bhavan communique said.

Meanwhile, Mr Munda said tonight he had been asked by the Governor to prove his majority in the state Assembly by March 21.

The die was cast for the JMM chief in Delhi shortly before his meeting with the Governor when Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs that constitutional propriety demanded that Mr Soren should resign.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was upset at the constitutional “deadlock” created by Pro tem Assembly Speaker Pradeep Kumar’s failure to hold the trial of strength as he set himself on a collision course with the apex court.

The proceedings in the Assembly today were adjourned five times when UPA members, unsure of their numbers, stalled the business questioning the competence of the Pro tem Speaker to conduct a trial of strength. The NDA’s flock of 41 in the 81-member House remained intact throughout the day.

Before adjourning the House till Tuesday, Balmuchu suggested that the President seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on its interim order advancing the trial of strength, citing the Lok Sabha Speaker’s reservations on the issue.

In the morning, at a high-level meeting of Congress leaders, including Ms Sonia Gandhi and senior ministers at the Prime Minister’s residence, it was decided that the government would not make a presidential reference as suggested by Mr Chatterjee.

Meanwhile, a jubilant BJP observed that the Union Government was finally trying to make corrections after its direct involvement in foisting a minority government in Jharkhand. Its leader and spokesperson Arun Jaitley said that the NDA had paraded its majority of 41 MLAs before the Governor as well as the President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and other Constitutional authorities. — TNS, PTI

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